This is a love sonnet from Garcilaso de la Vega, perhaps based on a real love, but just as likely an exercise in the expression of a theme, a vehicle to bring to bear the range of the poet’s technical skills and inspire admiration from the reader, rather than empathy or emotion. Many poems of this era tend to be designed to appeal to the intellect or to a sense of aesthetics, rather than touch our hearts, but I like to think there is at least a smidgeon of real feeling in poems such as this. For this poem, at least speaks of a love so deep that the poet feels totally imbued with the presence of his loved one.
Escrito está en mi alma vuestro gesto,
y cuanto yo escribir de vos deseo;
vos sola lo escribisteis, yo lo leo
tan solo, que aun de vos me guardo en esto.
En esto estoy y estaré siempre puesto;
que aunque no cabe en mí cuanto en vos veo,
de tanto bien lo que no entiendo creo,
tomando ya la fe por presupuesto.
Yo no nací sino para quereros;
mi alma os ha cortado a su medida;
por hábito del alma mismo os quiero.
Cuanto tengo confieso yo deberos;
por vos nací, por vos tengo la vida,
por vos he de morir, y por vos muero.
The momentum of the poem builds up from a fairly gentle beginning, setting out the premise that the poet’s lover’s every gesture is written into his soul, gaining in intensity with every line, every example of the lover’s effect on him, until the last two lines are a crescendo of deep feeling. The repetition of “por vos” four times in the final two lines deepens the expression of the poet’s feeling of connection with his lover. The reader will truly feel that this love is so special, almost unreally noble compared to the flawed and volatile love affairs that exist in real life. But isn’t that a valid use of poetry – to express the ideal, the aspiration, rather than mundane reality. Such poetry has the capacity to lift us up.
The Poetry Dude